Oxidation of antibiotics with KMnO4: Drinking water treatment and removal of antibiotic activity

Lanhua Hu, Heather M. Martin, Kristine Wammer, Amanda Stemig, Timothy J. Strathmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Several recent reports have documented the presence of antibiotics in drinking water sources, the result of incomplete treatment of waste streams originating from municipal sources and livestock operations. Although these compounds are detected at sub-therapeutic levels, their presence raises concerns about ecotoxicological and public health risks associated with long-term exposure. As a result, there is also growing interest in the fate of antibiotics during drinking water treatment processes. Potassium permanganate (KMnO 4) is used by a number of utilities to address a range of issues (e.g., dissolved Mn, T&O), but little is known about the effectiveness of KMnO4 for oxidizing antibiotics or the effect of treatment on antibiotic potency of the treated water. This contribution reports for the first time on treatment of commonly detected antibiotics (trimethoprim, lincomysin, ciprofloxacin, sulfamethoxazole, sulfamethizole, and chlortetracycline) with KMnO4. Kinetic studies demonstrate that KMnO4 is a selective oxidant, exhibiting apparent second-order rate constants with the target antibiotics at pH 7 ranging from <0.03 to 110 M-1 s -1. Reaction rates are highly dependent on pH, and measured kinetic trends can be modeled by accounting for changes in acid/base speciation of the target antibiotics. Kinetic model predictions also agree closely with measurements of antibiotic treatment in drinking water utility source waters of variable composition. Bioassay experiments show that oxidation products and intermediates possess negligible antibacterial activity in comparison with the parent drugs. 2009

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWater Quality Technology Conference and Exposition 2009
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventWater Quality Technology Conference and Exposition 2009 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: Nov 15 2009Nov 19 2009

Publication series

NameWater Quality Technology Conference and Exposition 2009


OtherWater Quality Technology Conference and Exposition 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Water Science and Technology


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